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Remote & Online Learning in TAFE During the COVID-19 Outbreak

17 March 2020


Unfortunately we all find ourselves in extraordinary times with the outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia.  This has meant that a number of educational institutions have had to close for periods of time and a number of students and their families have had to self-isolate.

In light of the above, and the risk that more educational institutions across the country will have to close in the near future, this information sheet provides guidance to TAFE institutes as to how they can continue to teach their students remotely.  While there is not a definitive answer to all scenarios that TAFE institutes may be presented with during this time, we can provide some general guidelines and best practice approaches to managing copyright issues for distance learning, as well as some guidance on the most likely scenarios facing teachers when supporting student learning at this time.

This information sheet is confined to distance education for the purposes of TAFE closures and student self-isolation due to COVID-19. It covers the situation where materials that were going to be used in class now need to be made available by teachers through distance learning (online).  It does not cover other new uses of material or new materials that, but for COVID-19, would not have been used in your teaching.  In those situations, our existing information sheets apply and you can contact the NCU for separate advice.

We encourage TAFE to take a common sense approach. We need to allow TAFE institutes to continue to educate students without unreasonably prejudicing the legitimate interests of copyright owners during this time.  Some of the copyright issues set out in this information sheet are complex, and for some questions we are receiving from teachers there are no ‘black and white’ answers.  We are hopeful that copyright owners and licensing organisations will likewise take a pragmatic and common sense approach to these issues.

Please note, NCU is in ongoing discussions with collecting societies and educational resource providers to continue to provide TAFE with the best possible information.  Please check  www.smartcopying.edu.au for regular updates including updated versions of this information sheet.

 The short answer is this: in the vast majority of cases TAFE institutes can use digital technologies to provide remote teaching and learning support to Australian students.  If you were planning on using copyright material in a lesson for students, you can still use it to deliver that lesson to students remotely via the internet. However, care will need to be taken in the way content is provided to students remotely to ensure that these unprecedented circumstances do not lead to wider uses of content by students that may cause harm to copyright owners.

 Some general principles to guide all remote teaching during a TAFE institute closure

 Here are some questions and general principles to assist you in preparing remote lessons for students.  More information is provided on each of these below: 

1.There are many free legal sources of content for students to access without teachers needing to make copies for students and these free resources should be considered.  For example, if a music teacher needs students to listen to a particular song, is it available for students to access legally via services such as Spotify or YouTube?  Is a news item you need students to view available on a catch up TV service such as ABC iView?  If so, those freely available sources should be used.

2. If students need to read or view content that is available on the internet, can you send students an email or document with links to those resources rather than making copies of them for students?  E.g. can students use their home internet connections to access research reports, newspaper articles or instructional videos rather than a teacher making a copy of these resources and sending them to students?  If so, this should be done.

3. Students can also access many subscription services from home.  For example, if the TAFE has a subscription service, students should be able to access those resources by logging in from home rather than teachers needing to copy content for the student.

Existing educational licences and exceptions under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Copyright Act) can apply even though teaching will now take place remotely.  (For more information on the existing licences and exceptions in the digital teaching environment see https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/tafe/copyright-in-the-digital-teaching-environment-a-manual-for-tafe).

4. Generally, where an institute/teacher has a right to use material in the physical classroom, the existing licences and exceptions should allow you engage in similar ways in a digital environment provided you comply with the common sense steps set out below:
  • Only make the works available for those students that need to access them e.g. the relevant classes rather than all students enrolled at the institute;
  • Make the works available to view via password protected access only;
  • Ensure that no further copies/downloads can be made;
  • Only make the works available for the period of time for which they are needed;
  • Archive or disable access by students to the works once they are no longer needed by the students (e.g. when the institute re-opens); and
  • When making any copies available, ensure there is a clear instructional purpose for doing so e.g. it is not just being made available in case it is needed.

5. If you are teaching remotely and need to use copyright content in your lessons (e.g. playing a song or video), where possible you should live stream the lesson to students to avoid making copies of this content.  If this is not possible, and you need to record the lesson to upload for students to access on demand, you should ensure this is on a password protected digital teaching environment (DTE) rather than on the open internet (e.g. on a website or public Facebook page).

Common ways that teachers can deliver remote/online learning during TAFE institute closures or assisting students in isolation

  1. Holding virtual classes/lessons for students to watch in real-time;
  2. Recording classes/lessons for students to access on-demand;
  3. Putting content onto a DTE for students to access;
  4. Mailing print resources to students.


These options are discussed in more detail below.

 1. Holding virtual classes/lessons for students to watch in real-time (i.e. live rather than pre-recorded)

This is our recommended approach wherever possible to do so, as student viewing lessons from home is likely to be covered by an exception in the Copyright Act. For example, if a student is in isolation, can they ‘dial in’ to a lesson using technologies such as Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts, Zoom or similar?  If the TAFE is closed, can a teacher live stream lessons to students at scheduled times?  If so, these options should be used where possible, rather than recording classes/lessons for students to access on-demand.

Note, the virtual class/lesson should only be available to those students who need it as part of their studies, for example only accessible via a username and password.  For more information see: https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/tafe/performance-and-communication-of-works-and-audio-visual-material-in-tafe-classes-what-am-i-allowed-to-do-.

2. Recording classes/lessons for students to access on-demand

This option is allowed, without restrictions, where no copyright materials are used in the lesson.  

Where copyright materials are used, this option will most likely be allowed under the current educational use provisions in the Copyright Act, subject to the following:

  1. only make the recording available for students to view via password protected access;
  2. ensure that no further copies/downloads can be made;
  3. limit access to the video recording to those students that need to view it (e.g. the relevant classes rather than all students enrolled at the TAFE);
  4. only make the recording available for the time needed for the course of study; and
  5. archive or disable access by students to the recording once it is no longer needed by the students.

We would also recommend that you add the following notice at the beginning of the video:

 This video recording has been made available to you in accordance with the Copyright Act for you to view only.  No further copies or sharing of the video should be made outside the class as the material in the recording may be the subject of copyright protection.  Do not remove this notice.

 If this is not practical, it would be a good idea to email students (or put a notice in TAFE blogs or other communication platforms) reminding students that remote lessons are being provided to them as part of their TAFE institute’s response to COVID-19, and that they must not make any further copies of any of the content provided to them, including sharing with friends, via social media, or uploading to the internet.

 3. Putting content onto a DTE for students to access

 During this time, teachers may wish to upload material to a DTE for students to access.  You should be able to do this under certain provisions of the Copyright Act, provided you follow the following guidelines and requirements.  Please note that there are different rules depending on the type of material you’re using as part of your teaching.

 Materials from digital textbooks and resources

 Where the TAFE or students have purchased a digital textbook or paid subscription to educational materials for each student in the class, it should be okay for the teacher to upload short extracts and or chapters of the material onto a DTE as needed for the purposes of teaching the class.  Teachers should take the following steps to protect the copyright in those resources: 

  1. make the material available for students to view via password protected access;
  2. ensure that no further copies/downloads can be made;
  3. limit access to those students that need to view it (e.g. the relevant classes rather than all students enrolled at the TAFE);
  4. only make the material available for the time needed for the course of study; and
  5. archive or disable access by students to the material once it is no longer needed by the students.

 Sound Recordings

 If your students need to listen to music, we encourage you to point them to streaming services such as Spotify, SoundCloud, Mixcloud.  These services are free but also there are paid premium services available.

 Students can also use their own personal music accounts such as Apple Music or Google Play. 

With regard to audiobooks, you can stream these to your virtual class or refer students to lending or subscription sites that offer audiobooks such as Audible, BorrowBox, CloudLibrary, RBdigital or Overdrive. Uploading extracts of commercially available audiobooks to a DTE for remote access outside of class may possibly be permitted in very limited circumstances. Please contact the NCU for further advice.  For free audiobooks to stream or download, see the below section on ‘Free resources and subscriptions’. 

With regard to podcasts, we recommend you provide links to podcasts for students to access remotely.

 For more information on how you can currently use music, sound recordings and podcasts see:


 Broadcast Radio and Television

 TAFE institutes are encouraged to direct students and parents to ABC iView, SBS on demand and other Australian broadcaster catch up television services.

 For more information on how you can use broadcast radio and television see https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/tafe/copyright-in-the-digital-teaching-environment-a-manual-for-tafe/broadcast-radio-and-television.

 Films and Videos

 We encourage students to access subscription streaming services at home such as Netflix, Stan and Prime Video.  Please note many of these services offer one month free trials. There are a number of educational resources available on free video sites such as YouTube or Vimeo.  Students can be provided with links to view the appropriate educational resource on these platforms from home. 

 Where possible, teachers are encouraged to provide links to students or embed videos in their DTEs.

 If a teacher needs to include film or video content in a lesson, we encourage this to be done via live stream in a lesson context wherever possible (see above).  If this is not possible, a teacher may be able to include a short extract of film or video content in a lesson resource (such as including a short clip in a lesson slide presentation).

 As a last resort, in the special case of a TAFE closure or student isolation for COVID-19, if a student is required to watch a film as part of their coursework, and there is now no other way of facilitating this, a TAFE may be able to make a copy for the student (e.g. on a DVD or USB), which should be password and copy protected, and should be returned to the institute at the end of the time it is needed for the study unit. Although the copy should be copy protected, it is also important to advise students that no further copying or distribution is allowed.

 For more information see:





4. Mailing print resources to students

 Due to internet/bandwidth issues, teachers may need to provide students with photocopies of print resources or a USB or DVD of print resources.

 This is most likely allowed, subject to the same restrictions as set out above, as well as the following requirements:

  1. You should send a cover letter with the resources that states the materials have been provided for the student’s educational use during the COVID-19 outbreak and no further copies should be made;
  2. If the student doesn’t need to print or edit the resources on the USB or DVD, lock the USB or DVD so that resources can only be viewed and no further copies or downloads can be made.

 For more information see https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/copyright-guidelines/education-licences-(statutory-and-voluntary-licences)/education-licence-b-statutory-text-and-artistic-licence

 Smartcopying tips for TAFE teachers

 Link or Embed

 Linking and embedding content are not copyright activities.  This is because teachers are not actually ‘copying’ any material. Rather, teachers are providing students with a path to its location.  Providing links and embedding material is a great way for teachers to manage copyright.


 Ensure access to material is limited to the relevant students only.  Limiting access is important for cost and risk management.  For example, if only a specific class needs access to material, limit access to those students rather than allowing the entire institute to access.


 All material created and used for educational purposes should be properly attributed.  Attributing is important to ensure we don't pay licence fees for material we already own or are allowed to use – e.g. TAFE created content.  For more information see https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/tafe/labelling-tafe-material

 Use Creative Commons (CC) Licensed Material and Open Education Resources (OER)

 TAFE institutes are encouraged to use Creative Commons (CC) licensed material and Open Education Resources (OER). CC licensed material and OER are free to access, modify and share.  For information on where to find CC and OER materials, see https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/open-education/open-education-resources/where-to-find-cc-licensed-material


 For more information on Smartcopying see https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/tafe/copyright-in-the-digital-teaching-environment-a-manual-for-tafe

 Archive material when it is no longer needed

 Archive material as soon as possible when it is no longer required to help manage copyright risk and costs.

 Archiving involves moving the material into a closed area online where it can only be accessed by one person, such as the ICT Manager or teacher who uploaded the material.

 Free resources and subscriptions

For a list of useful Creative Commons and other free educational resources for students see https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/information-sheets/schools/useful-creative-commons-and-other-free-educational-resources-for-parents-supporting-students.

 Contact the NCU

 The above gives general guidelines to TAFE institutes on how to facilitate remote and online learning during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

 Please keep an eye out for updates as this information sheet will be updated as more information becomes available.

 If you have any other questions or need additional guidance, please contact the NCU:

●Tel: 02 7814 3855
●Email: smartcopying@det.nsw.edu.au